new new book

for book club i think we should read little women by louisa may alcott. i think it should be everywhere they have books.


is anyone else having problems posting comments?

i can't post a comment for my life...anyone else dealing with this issue?


new book?

would anyone be interested in reading "the gods arrive" by edith wharton? i said i wouldnt read anything she wrote again after i read ethan frome in high school. too symbolic and ironic and cold. but i started reading the book in the library without realizing who the author was. then i started to like it. but its on the long side i think and i know katie can't get everything in japan. let me know if anyone would be interested...



This has nothing to do with our books, but I just wanted to share an observation about the movie Dumbo.  I watched it again yesterday and was once again struck that Dumbo doesn't speak at all and his mom only names him.  I think the movie is stronger because the central characters don't speak, but we see their feelings through expression. What do you think?


the fall of the house of usher

so that's the new book, poe's the fall of the house of usher and other writings. obviously we dont need to read all of it, but i think we should choose a couple stories and essays. i want to at least read the fall of the house of usher, the masque of the red death, the black cat and the gold-bug. what other stories/essays/poems should we read from collection?


New Book?

What's the new book choice? I'm so excited I can hardly wait!


another digression

Have any of you watched Changeling with Angelina Jolie? I just watched it last night, and it totally reminded me of the book...only because of all the turmoil and conflict in the film that occurs and the choice of music Clint Eastwood decided to accompany the film with.


but i am digressing

it took me a week to remember what email address i used to set up this blog, so my thoughts are going to be a little dated (meaning the book isn't as fresh in my mind as i would have hoped).

i want to first mention something about the title: the artist of the floating world. obviously, it refers to the style of art practiced by ono, an art that capture the glimpses of a kind of transitory world that only appears at night in the pleasure districts before the war. but, i think, the narration in the book too counts as the floating world. this floating world is the one of the past, the floating, fleeting memories interrupted (or continued) by distractions, misrememberings and tangents. these memories only last a second and then disappear. if they reappear, they're usually in a new form. in some ways, ono, in his advanced age, seems trapped in this floating world only occasionally drawn out by sporadic visits from his daughters and old acquaintances. however, even these brief interludes end up taking him back to the past. (this habit of the narration speaks to what natali was talking about when she mentioned ono seemed to be suffering from dementia or alzheimer's -- he's pretty much trapped in his own mind.)

last week i ended up watching part of kurosawa's seven samurai. one of the things interesting about this movie is how much it has in common with earlier westerns. there's this part early on in the film where two samurais have the equvilant of a quick draw shootout. it's as if, in some small ways, kurosawa is refashioning the samurai story to be more compatible with the influence of american popular culture prevalent in japan after the war. which, of course, reminds me of ichiro's heros being american cowboys and cartoon characters.

overall i liked the book. especially the focus on the unreliability of memory -- ono seems to have completely different memories of events than everyone he talks to -- and the way we refashion our own personal history through our memories. also, the fragile nature of memory. that memories are there for an instance. and so, because memories, like life, are transient, there is a certain melancholy as we lose the memory just as we remember.



Who is choosing the next book?  If it is too new, there isn't a guarantee I can easily get it, but I will try to get anything that is chosen.


pictures of lanterns

i liked how the main character realizes while he is remembering conversations and situations he is projecting onto his memories his own beliefs and attitudes. or perhaps just confusing his memories. actually for awhile i thought he was suffering from alzheimers but in the early stages. and, although this is technically not part of the book i liked the author's picture.

A few more thoughts

What captured me initially was the calm surface to the dialogue, while underneath you could feel the bubbling drama and tension. This reminds me of the very traditional form of Japanese art both visual and landscape...it's very thoughtfully constructed and pre-determined with objects, shapes, and figures well thought out in advance...but the effects are very dynamic when it's completed. It's a controlled vigor, if you will. And in An Artist of the Floating World we sense that underwater feeding frenzy going on through Ono's relationship with his daughters and friends and the veiled way in which they converse with one another. I love this approach, too, because it draws us in deeper and makes us thirsty for more.

I couldn't help but be drawn to Ono sympathetically, because as the product of an interracial marriage I have had the opportunity to see the "old school" regime and the new school of thought collide...and with interesting results, not unlike Ono's situation.

Who is really right? Which way is really the better way? I feel bad for the way Ono's associates treat him after the end of the war...because I feel like Ono did what he felt was best given the circumstances and his upbringing. This is a novel of repentance and self-awareness that we all are in need of employing for ourselves, regardless of whether or not we are involved in a World War.

We should constantly strive to be the best we can in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The only way we can achieve this is through sincere self evaluation. Will others look at us and judge? You bet they will, but they also don't know the whole story nor do they understand all the circumstances in which we ARE, if that makes sense. That's why I sympathize so much with the protagonist. I see his daughters (yes, I get the fact that one of them is dying to be married off so her future is secure), but I also think they see their father with tunnel vision. In the end, Ono "repents" and his daughter is married off and everyone is happy. I daresay one should not have to make sincere apologies public for others to view him in a more positive light.

I really enjoyed this read. It was captivating and I felt like I learned a lot about the Japanese way of life. It is so different from American life and the American view of things. I have always felt that elders should be treated with the kind of respect that I grew up with (a very polite child who offers their seat to their elder, makes a plate for them and when they are finished eating, the child should take the plate from their elder). I admit I was eager to discipline Ichiro for his rowdy and impolite behavior, but again, that is Ishiguro's way of showing us how the American way is preferred post-World War.

And, maybe I just have no idea how the Japanese culture is at all. So, Katie, if I'm totally out of line, feel free to correct me. :)


A Few Thoughts

Overall I really enjoyed the book.   I was surprised to learn that the author lived in Japan until he was 5 and then didn't return until after this book had been published. He does a great job capturing the Japanese spirit and way of life. Even in the way the girls address their father conveyed the different level in which one speaks towards ones elders. I enjoyed the narration style, he talks like I do jumping onto different tangents and then coming back to his original point. With his continual reminiscing of the past and the way it seemed to be defended I was surprised by his announcement at the miai that he had made mistakes.  Prior to that point I thought that perhaps the wedding would not go through.
I think the novel asks many good questions. One of which is about the American way.  Is the American way really better? Did the Japanese way have to be so abandoned? Was it abandoned? Through Ichiro we see that embrace of the American way while playing cowboy and pretending to speak English.  Ono-san asks him why he doesn't pretend to be a ninja or samurai.  His mother says that Suichi believes American heroes to be better role models.  I think the change we see in Ono is a better reflection of change.  Complete overhaul isn't always best as is done to Taro's company, but an acknowledgement of the past and responsibility taken and then proceed to the future.  
Migi-Hidari.  I recognize that you guys probably don't know the meaning of the bar name.  Literally it is Right-Left.  When first described I thought that the name was appropriate because of the literal location of the bar.  It seemed to be the center of the pleasure district and only natural that direction begins from the center. As I learned more about the military connection and ideal associated with the establishment I realized that perhaps the name has more to do with soliders marching in formation, right left right left.
I have other thoughts, but right now I feel at a loss to be able to adequately express myself.  I guess that comes from both talking to kids all day as well as living in a foreign country where I don't speak very much more than simple conversation in English.


An Artist of the Floating World

I am very excited to be doing this with you guys. I feel that my English abilities have greatly declined and hope that this will help me out.  I was thinking that if we tried to have books read by the 20th that we could then discuss them.  I don't know the best way to discuss.  Should we have questions that everyone answers or just post thoughts and then comment back and forth and if it is a new thought/question than a new post.  What do you guys think?
 February's book is an artist of the floating world  by kazuo ishiguro.